Category Archives: Musical knowledge videos

Piano Notation Basics


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New to the piano and not sure about notation? This series of 6 videos will tell you everything you need to know to start reading notes with confidence.

These videos are suitable for beginners of all ages and will be a useful resource for music teachers. Pause the videos at appropriate moments for comments, discussion or activities.

Part 1 introduces staves (the lines on which music is written) and clefs (the signs which tell you whether to play high notes or low notes).

Part 2 looks at note heads and stems, and explains what it means to say that notes are ‘on lines’ or ‘in spaces’.

Part 3 explains ‘the beat’ in music, and introduces time signatures and bar lines.

Part 4 introduces simple note values with some musical examples, and explains how finger numbers are used.

Part 5 shows you how to name and find some notes on the piano.

Part 6 is a review of things which were covered in the previous videos.

For ‘Getting Started On The Piano‘ (mentioned in Part 6), see the next post.

Percussion, and others

The UK’s Philharmonia Orchestra has produced a series of videos to help people learn about instruments.

Here is the percussion section. The ‘Percussion’ video includes a variety of instruments: vibraphone (at the beginning), xylophone (2:28), marimba (3:32), glockenspiel (4:53), drums, cymbals etc. (from 5:54). The timpani (or kettledrums) are covered in a separate video.

Not sure what a celeste (or celesta) is? You will almost certainly have heard this instrument in the Harry Potter movie soundtracks, as well as in Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Finally, there are also some videos about instruments which are rarely found in an orchestra, such as the banjo.

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s instrument videos: introduction

Whatever instrument(s) you play, it’s always useful (and fascinating) to know as much as you can about other instruments. If you play the piano, thinking about the sounds of orchestral instruments can sometimes be very helpful. For example, if you have a very smooth (legato) melody in the right hand, imagine it being played by a clarinet. Or, for a detached (staccato) left hand passage, think about how it might sound on a bassoon.

The UK’s Philharmonia Orchestra has produced a series of videos to help people learn about instruments. The players talk about and demonstrate their instruments, and explain how they interact with the rest of the orchestra. A few technical terms are used, but don’t worry if you don’t understand them all. The musical demonstrations will usually make it clear what the players are talking about. Some of the videos may seem a bit long, but you may well find yourself watching many of them all the way through.

The videos will be grouped into orchestral sections, starting with Strings and Harp (and The Conductor), coming up in the next post.